Dead Bang

Miami Vice’s Don Johnson, starring as the real-life LA homicide detective Jerry Beck, whose cross-country investigation of a series of murders leads him to uncover a frightening right-wing conspiracy, may be the most marketable element in this thriller directed by John Frankenheimer and written by Robert Foster, but he’s also the biggest problem. Whatever Johnson’s effectiveness as a TV performer, he’s alternately an empty hole and a dead weight on the movie screen, and apart from some nice camera work from Gerry Fisher and a couple of striking scenes, this watchable but routine thriller leaves little aftereffect; not even the conspiracy gets beyond the formulaic. Watch out for one nifty vomiting scene, however. Penelope Ann Miller, William Forsythe, Bob Balaban, and Tim Reid costar. (JR)

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